Best Of 2019

Best Juried Photography Show

“Files And Film”

Xina Scuderi’s “Files and Film” was a great success in its new location this year. Some of the participating photographers I knew by name and others I’d never heard of before. That’s what’s great about juried photography shows like this one. Anyone can enter, regardless of how many or how few exhibits they have under their belt. If the photo is good, it goes on the wall, and the photographer has the opportunity to sell that work. It’s a great way for new photographers to break into our local art scene, and I’m glad Tampa Bay has something like this to keep things fresh. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one happy about it either, because MIZE gallery was absolutely packed opening night.

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Best of the Bay 2019 Arts & Entertainment: Our readers and critics pick the best in local theater, poets, museums and so much more.


Critics' Picks

Best New Tech In An Art Museum

Best “Yes, You Can”

Best In It For The Kids

Best Glass Art Showcase

Best New Mural Festival

Best Zombie Makeover

Best Custom-Made Pinatas

Best Neighborhood Haunted House

Best New Park

Best Play That Would Have Made You Think Had You Bothered To See It

Best Maybe The World Is Going To Shit But This Play Makes You Forget

Best Show Coated In Behr’s English Daisy

Best Theatrical Slight Return

Best Theatrical One-Man “Band”

Best Production Of A Classic

Best Art Exhibit That Punched You In The Gut

Best Art Show For A Cause

Best ‘80s Ybor Class Reunion

Best 50- Year Anniversary Art Show

Best Conversation Starter

Best Human Photography For A Cause

Best Juried Photography Show

Best Alternative To Heatwave

Best New Art Collective

Best New Work/Art Space

Best Pet Photography For A Cause

Best Tampa Bay Time Capsule

Best Use Of A 3D Printer

Best Sight For Sore Eyes

Best Comedy Open Mic Host

Best Comedy Open Mic

Best Stand Up Comedian

Best Unique Comedy Show

Best Up-And-Coming Comedian

Best Beefy New Instagram

Best Immersive Podcast

Best Cult

Readers' Picks

Best Actor

Best Actress

Best Art Gallery (Non-Museum)

Best Art Party

Best Book By A Local Author Published In The Last 12 Months

Best Burlesque Act

Best Choreographer

Best Dance Company

Best Dancer

Best Drag Performer

Best Film Festival

Best Filmmaker

Best Gallery (Non-Museum) Show

Best Improv Team

Best Karaoke

Best Local Literary Event

Best Local Literary Journal

Best Museum

Best Museum Exhibit

Best Open Mic Night (Comedy)

Best Open Mic Night (Poetry)

Best Opera Company

Best Performing Arts Center

Best Photographer

Best Place To Bowl

Best Place To Play Pool

Best Playwright

Best Public Artwork

Best Singles Hangout

Best Small Concert Venue (Under 2,000 Capacity)

Best Spoken Word Artist

Best Stage Director

Best Stand-Up Comedian

Best Stand-Up Comedy Venue

Best Strip Club

Best Theater Company

Best Theater Production

Best Underground Cinema Event

Best Visual Art Curator

Best Visual Art Festival

Best Visual Artist

Best Weekly Club Night

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Best 50-Year Anniversary Art Show

Hillsborough Community College

Hillsborough Community College celebrated its 50-year Anniversary, and to commemorate it, HCC the Ybor and HCC campus gallery curators teamed up for one hell of an anniversary art show. The really awesome thing about this collaboration is that the college expanded its permanent art collection in the process, ensuring that HCC students and the greater Tampa Bay area will have access to quality locally-made artwork for years to come.

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Winner: Jorge Diaz

Second Place: Harold Oehler

Runner Up: Matthew McGee

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Winner: Annie Sardouk

Second Place: Mercy Roberts

Runner Up: Alicia Thomas

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Best Alternative To Heatwave


Over the summer, WMNF program director Randy Wynne suggested that the community radio station may revive its summertime Tropical Heatwave festival for one year only in 2020. We haven’t heard anything about the revival since July, but at least we’ve got Whigfest to fill the void. Liz Cooper, Tyler Childers and Trampled By Turtles all provided plenty of power alongside a healthy bill of locals that took over a handful of Ybor City venues during the magical weekend. 

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Best Art Exhibit That Punched You In The Gut

Tom Kiefer’s “El Sueño Americano” At Artsxchange

Whether or not you agree that every human has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on our shores, it’s hard to argue that it’s OK to keep humans in cages. Tom Kiefer, who worked as a janitor at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Ajo, Arizona, began collecting images of things CBP deemed “nonessential” for immigrants to be able to keep as they detention centers. It was the childrens toys that broke me, but everyone who saw this exhibit at The ArtsXchange had a different trigger moment. 

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Winner: Dunedin Fine Art Center

Second Place: ArtPool

Runner Up: Morean Art Center

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Winner: Painting With A Twist

Second Place: Practically Pikasso

Runner Up: Nude Night

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‘Rulers’ At Coco Hunday

In response to living in an era of terrible rulers, Seminole Heights gallery Coco Hunday, invited artists to submit their own measuring devices with “mechanical, political, or poetic implications” for the exhibition called “RULERS.”

Works of art were priced for $100 or less with all proceeds being donated to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. This non-discriminatory call for artists brought in pieces from emerging and professional artists and one entry from a two-and-a-half year old. Organizers Sue Havens and Jason Lazarus filled coolers with booze and Capri Suns, ordered pizzas and let the community gather for good and snag a one-of-a-kind piece without taking a cut of the profits. Coco Hunday raised more than $1,500 during the opening reception alone in June. 

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Best ‘80s Ybor Class Reunion

The Catherine Wheel At Museum Of Fine Arts St. Petersburg’s Theo Wujcik ‘Cantos’ Exhibition

Visual artist Wujcik was the pied piper of the late ‘80s Ybor creative scene, and many great local bands cut their teeth at the area’s clubs. One of the most popular got back together for this one-off reunion show at the MFA back in April during a particularly interesting showing of Wujcik’s work; The Catherine Wheel was in fine form, and the crowd could’ve been the same one you mingled with at Impulse 30 years ago. —Scott Harrell

See all winners from Best of the Bay 2019.